Samoa Government Sacks Satapuala Mayor After Road Blockade

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Despite removal, mayor will continue duties with village’s approval

By Jasmine Netzler

APIA, Samoa (Samoa Observer, Aug. 20, 2012) – The pulenu’u (mayor) of Satapuala, Ga Sakaria, has been sacked by the Samoan Government. According to a letter from the Ministry of Women, Community and Social Development (MWCSD), Cabinet made the decision last Thursday. Signed by CEO, Leituala Kuiniselani Toelupe Tago, the letter obtained by the Sunday Samoan, does not give any reasons for the decision.

"In accordance with a decision made by Cabinet, you are informed that your role as the representative of the village as was endorsed on 5 October 2011 F.K (11) 32 has ended, effective today, Thursday 16 August 2012," Leituala wrote. "For further information about the reasons, contact the Ministry on 27753 or 27754."

Yesterday, Ga was teary when he spoke about how he was sacked. He said the letter was handed to him by a young man of their village. "He told me it was given to him by a man driving a van belonging to the Ministry of Women on Thursday," said Ga.

Thursday was the day when Satapuala and the Police clashed over a roadblock the village put in place to protest against the Government’s ignoring their land grievances. Ga said the decision was personal.

"They should’ve had the decency to call me and inform me about what their reasons are instead of sending a messenger with the letter," he said. "The letter gives no reasons. It’s very unprofessional."

Asked what he would do next, Ga said the Government might have sacked him but he would continue to perform his role in the village. "This doesn’t mean I will stop playing my role as mayor in Satapuala.

"The Ali’i and Faipule have spoken and they want me to continue my duties as their mayor." Ga said he plans to contact the Ministry of Women to find out what happened.

"But I suspect that it’s because they think I didn’t play my role as mayor in this issue between the village and government.

"I’ve tried my best to be neutral. I’m not the only person who makes decisions in the village." Spokesperson for Satapuala, Vaili Mimita II confirmed that the village has agreed for Ga to continue to be their mayor. "We understand he was stripped of the title by Cabinet because of what has happened," said Vaili. "But we will nominate Ga again. The Government doesn't tell us who should be our pulenu’u. That’s a decision by the village."

[PIR editor’s note: Meanwhile, Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi has apologized to the Samoan public and visiting tourists for disruptions to travel while Satapuala villagers blocked a road. Tourists reportedly from New Zealand were questioned at gunpoint upon arriving at the roadblock. Tuilaepa has denounced the actions of Satapuala's residents as sedition.]

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